LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Donor countries pledged $12 billion to the Global Fund on Wednesday to fight AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria, the largest budget yet but below the Fund’s $15 billion target.
The support announced at the Global Fund’s Fourth Replenishment meeting in Washington was a sharp rise from pledges made at the previous one, which attracted $ 9.2 billion in 2010, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). The funds will cover a period of three years.
The pledges are “a big increase on the previous period and we think it will make a transforming difference in the lives of millions of people,” said Global Fund Head of Communications Seth Faisons.
“We set our sights very high, but we are not disappointed. We are still very pleased and very grateful to all the donors who allowed us to get to a total of 12 billion dollars,” he added.
The international financing institution will stick to its $15 billion target, expecting additional commitments over the coming two months, he said.
New HIV infections have been reduced by 33 percent since 2001. UNAIDS noted that countries’ domestic spending on HIV had increased, and accounted for around 53 percent of global HIV resources last year.
“More than 9.7 million people in low- and middle-income countries are now accessing HIV treatment, an increase of nearly 20 percent in just one year,” UNAIDS said.
The failure to meet the Fund’s target drew criticism of donor countries from Doctors Without Borders, which voiced disappointment and concern.
“People living with HIV and TB can't afford for donor countries to sit on their hands and let the opportunity to curb new HIV infections and TB cases slip by, especially when the U.S. has promised to match other donors’ contributions (by $1 for every $2 pledged, up to $5 billion),” said Sharonann Lynch, HIV and TB Policy Advisor for Doctors Without Borders.
“Flat funding or only meagre increases, like what we’re seeing from Germany, the European Commission and the Netherlands, won’t get us there,” she said. “For its part, the Global Fund should make sure as many people are reached with treatment services as soon as possible, by committing to buying quality medicines at the lowest possible price,” she said.
According to Faisons, the Global Fund has adopted a new framework for procurement this year, involving buying medicine in bulk to reduce the cost of the drugs.
According to the World Health Organization:
- In 2012, 8.6 million people fell ill with TB and 1.3 million died from it;
- There were about 219 million cases of malaria in 2010, causing an estimated 660,000 deaths;
- More than 35.3 million people are living with HIV, of whom more than two million are between 10 and 19 years old.
- An estimated 2.3 million people were newly infected with the virus last year.